Have you ever found yourself sliding? Have you ever noticed yourself spiralling? Sliding into complaining, and spiralling into blaming? I know I certainly have. In fact, just the other day I started to slide and spiral until I grabbed a hold of myself and made the choice instead to err on the side of gratitude.
Why does it take so much deliberate attention to be positive and grateful, yet we can so easily, without realising, fall into negativity and complaining? I guess it’s like why it takes deliberate focus to get up and exercise, whilst it can be too easy to hit snooze and roll over back into slumber. Well, the other morning I had conquered the alarm to get up to exercise, but that didn’t mean my attitude was immune from spiralling into that all too commonplace.
It is late Spring in Australia, and normally a very beautiful time of the year. The weather is warming, the sun is shining, the flowers are blossoming, the birds are singing, and all should be right in the world. Well, on this particular morning, all was not right in the world. It was not warm, there was no sign of the sun, in fact it was winter. Icy cold wind and rain was blowing in sideways and making it very uncomfortable. I was training at the beach, so the wind was extra windy, and the rain extra cold, and my attitude was sliding.
I had got through my session, I was walking home along the beach, and I was uncharacteristically cranky. What is with this weather? It is supposed to be Spring, and this is more like a yucky winter. I am cold, I am wet, and I am not happy. As this mental dialogue began, and as I was starting to slide, I saw something on the footpath ahead of me. As I got closer, I saw it was a t-shirt lying on the ground, and on it was the word ‘GRATEFUL’. I looked at it, I stopped my slide, and said, Andrew, this is not like you and this t-shirt is definitely a sign. What is there to be grateful for? Do you know what is great about asking the right questions? They change the path of your thoughts, and they unlock answers that can change your state in a heartbeat. That is what happened for me.
I shifted into gratitude. As I looked around, I could see reasons to be grateful everywhere. I am grateful I live near the beach. I am grateful for the friendly dogs I get to pat. I am grateful for the suburb I live in and the home I own. I am grateful for the hot shower I am about to have. I am grateful for the fact that I am waterproof. I am grateful for the rain because we need it. I am grateful for a God who provides everything I need. And, on it went all the way home. When I got there, I felt amazing and knew I was about to have a wonderful day. Guess what? I did!
So, my thought for you this week is a simple one. When you feel yourself starting to slide, err on the side of gratitude. When you ask yourself, what do I have to be grateful for? The answers will start coming. I even find, outside of the obvious things I am grateful for, my mind prompts me to be grateful for my challenges, because they are helping me grow as a person. No matter what may be happening in your life, there is no excuse to not err on the side of gratitude.
In my podcast this week with the wonderful Kelly Myles, called Balancing stress, gratitude is one of the strategies we discuss to help turn unhealthy stress into healthy stress. It is a wonderful conversation, and I am grateful to Kelly for sharing her ideas with me.
It is a simple message this week, but one which will have a profound impact on your life and the lives of people you care about. As a human being, you will experience the whole spectrum of emotions, you can’t stop or change that. What you can control is which emotions you focus on and which you hold onto. This week, and forever more, when in doubt and when you feel yourself sliding, err on the side of gratitude.